The U.S. Navy, in cooperation with the Missile Defense Agency (MDA),
successfully conducted a ballistic missile defense (BMD) demonstration May 24
involving the intercept of a target missile in the terminal phase (the last few
seconds) of flight.
The test involved an Aegis cruiser modified to detect, control and engage a
ballistic missile target with a modified Standard Missile - 2 (SM-2) Block IV.
The Pearl Harbor-based Aegis cruiser USS Lake Erie (CG 70) conducted the mission
against a short-range target missile launched from the Pacific Missile Range
Facility, Barking Sands, Kauai, Hawaii.
It was the first sea-based intercept of a ballistic missile in its terminal
The modified Aegis Weapon System and the modified SM-2 Block IV provided the
firing ship the capability to guide the missile to achieve either a direct
body-to-body hit between the interceptor and the threat or a near-direct hit
where the high pressure, heat and fragments are placed on the threat by a blast
This warhead is similar in concept to that used in the deployed Israeli Arrow
system. In this test, the threat missile was completely destroyed by the
combined effects of these two mechanisms.
There is currently no sea-based terminal ballistic missile defense capability.
The Navy Area Theater Ballistic Missile Defense (TBMD) Program, had been under
development, but was terminated in December 2001. In ballistic missile defense,
the modified Aegis Weapon System, with a modified SM-2 Block IV missile provides
a near term, limited emergency capability against a very specific segment of the
ballistic missile threat. The Navy and MDA consider it vital to develop a more
robust capability for terminal ballistic missile defense of the joint sea base
and friendly force embarkation points ashore.
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